I didn’t want to know about death even after searching it out in automobiles and drugs and bad fights. It stretched out over everything like the light from those sodium street lamps. Their dull orange seemed a friendless lot.
There were weeks you could ride into the country and not see anything but construction, success marked by derricks and head of cattle. You could sweat all of the night before into the trough before you even saddled up and got out in it.
There was a tree, I dunno what kind it was, maybe a cottonwood, maybe not. I’d lean up against it, chew on a hard match, waiting for answers. In the afternoons I’d ride into the scrub until there wasn’t a bit of scrub left. If there were any dead steers, they got a red tag in their punched through their dead ear.
by Hank Cherry